School of Music


Master of Arts in Ethnomusicology (MA)


Michael Harland


Metal, emo, millennials, music, mental health




The goal of this paper is to understand the relationship between two related genres and a generation. Both genres have different interpretations, some catharsis, and others self-destruction. Finding modern and historical evidence of a need for sad music revealed a need for music that empathizes with a person’s current state. These genres did have the potential to engage in self-destruction, however, it was found this was due to external factors far more than the cause itself. When music is involved in destructive behavior it gives the individual permission to do so, rather than be the motivator towards it. As art was rarely the driving factor, the evidence that lives could be helped or invited to violence, research was required to understand this relationship. Interviews were conducted with four individuals who fit the criteria necessary to give data that applied to the demographic of millennials from the United States. It was found that findings based around the music being largely beneficial with exceptions only extending to unique or extreme circumstances gave credibility to prior findings. To best understand then where these extreme circumstances could potentially change the impact of music from positive to negative a chart was drawn and created to give a numerical template. Giving individuals deeper understanding of musics ability to help them, and what to look for in media that may permit destructive acts.

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